We recently saw the launch of Fitbit Inspire. A direct replacement for the Alta, the device also makes the Flex 2, Zip and One trackers a thing of the past. You can still buy them while stocks last, but Fitbit will not be manufacturing the older devices going forward.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Inspire was launched alongside Inspire HR. They are very similar in looks and functions, the most obvious difference being the lack of a heart rate sensor on Inspire. Other than that, both come with most things offered by their predecessors and package this into a sleek, modern looking form-factor.
You can check out our Inspire HR review on this link. What follows is our take on its lower spec sibling.
Put Inspire and its HR variant side-by-side and you’ll struggle to see the differences, apart from the color variations. But there are a few.
With a curved design featuring subtle rounded edges, both wearables improve on the look of their predecessors. They feel more modern and I actually prefer this design to Charge 3. My guess is the device will be particularly appealing to women. I found it very comfortable to wear, and the fact that is water-proof (5 ATM) means you can keep it on around the clock.
Coming in at only around 20 grams and 7 grams without the strap, Inspire is incredibly light. This, of course, is a good thing. The main unit measures only 16.2 mm x 12.3 mm x 37 mm (W x D x L) making it 0.3mm slimmer than its big brother.
The reason Fitbit was able to shave a few millimeters off the back is the lack of a heart rate sensor. All you have is a smooth plastic underside with tiny pins for the charger.
Fitness tracker rashes are a common thing. Most often the culprit is the need to wear the thing snuggly. No heart rate sensor means you won’t have this problem with Inspire as it doesn’t have to be sitting flush against your skin.
The front of the device is dominated by the 37 x 16mm, curved OLED touchscreen, which has pretty good visibility. The large fonts are easy to read both indoors and out. The color of the font on the display matches the color of the tracker. This may not be to everyone’s taste, particularly if you choose the Sangria version. Your other option is a more standard looking Black version.
As we’ve become accustomed with Fitbit devices, the screen is off by default. Lift your wrist, tap the face or press the single physical button on the left and it will spring to life. The physical button can also be used to move you back out of menus. The rest of the navigation is done via the touchscreen.
Perhaps to preserve battery life, the display only takes up about a half of the front of the device. This leaves large bezels at the top and bottom.
The smallish screen is not as big of a problem on Inspire as it is on Inspire HR. This is because you won’t be tracking your workouts on the screen in real-time on Inspire. It doesn’t allow for that. But for quickly glancing down at our steps, calories, active minutes – it’s perfectly fine and legible.
The screen is very responsive and you swipe up and down to scroll through the stats and apps. It’s worth stressing, unlike some of Fitbit’s older trackers this is a proper touch display.
Out of the box Inspire comes with a classic band made of soft silicone. Other bands can be purchased separately and it’s quite easy to pop the bands in and out of the main unit via the tiny spring pin system.
Unlike Inspire HR which comes with buckle fastening, the strap that comes with Inspire has a pin and loop mechanism. And while this stays securely in place once you go through the effort of attaching it, it is not ideal. Not a dealbreaker though, plus you can always buy one of the many third-party bands.
A clip-on accessory is also available for purchase separately. This is to cater for those who would previously have opted for Zip. It allows you to attach Inspire to your clothes or bags. From this position it acts like a standard pedometer.
This is a pretty basic device so you’ll only find a 3-axis accelerometer inside and a vibration motor. There’s no heart rate sensor, altimeter for counting floors or built-in GPS/Connected GPS.
As far as battery life is concerned, no worries there. Five days between charges is pretty decent. Leave it plugged in for a couple of hours and it will go from zero to full. The charger connects magnetically but the cable is a bit short so it’s a good idea to double-check that the charger is in full contact with the device.
Inspire is for those who are only after activity tracking basics and are not too bothered about advanced features. It, therefore, misses out on quite a bit of functionality you get with it’s more high-spec sibling.
Fitbit says the device was designed as an approachable and affordable tool with baseline health and fitness features. It’s meant to “inspire” users to improve their health and reach their goals, hence the name.
The gizmo keeps tabs on steps, distance, active minutes and calories burned, and it does all this fairly well. Accuracy of fitness trackers is always up for discussion but keep in mind that all you are getting is an approximation. No two fitness trackers will spit out the same information but trends are what ultimately matters. The consistency of the data from day to day is the important bit and Inspire does not disappoint on that count.
Sleep tracking stats include time awake, time asleep and time restless and this works surprisingly well considering the thing doesn’t have a heart rate sensor. The device will also pick up on afternoon naps. You don’t get info, though, on light, deep and REM sleep stages like you do on Inspire HR. Guided Breathing sessions are also not part of the feature-set.
Move reminders are there, though, to give you that nudge when you’ve not taken 250 steps during your active hours. If you’re not close to the target, you’ll get a vibration on your wrist as the hour approaches. There’s also female health tracking.
Seting up the tracker is super simple via the Fitbit app. All of the company’s fitness trackers use the same tried and tested smartphone software. Open or set up a new account, fill in your details, pair the device and you’re all set.
From that point on Inspire will sync automatically via Bluetooth whenever you open the app. You can also easily initiate a manual sync, if needed, by pulling down on the main app dashboard.
Your daily activity stats on displayed on the tracker itself, but for more details, trends and graphs the smartphone app is the place to go to. Tap on pretty much any metric for further breakdowns.
I did a few runs with the tracker strapped on. The device was pretty good at automatically figuring out I have started to exercise. This is important as there’s no way to manually start a workout.
The lack of a heart rate sensor and built-in (or Connected) GPS means the exercise stats are pretty basic and you don’t get a Vo2Max or Cardio Fitness value. Your run stats consist of the number of steps taken, calories burned, active minutes and total exercise time. Those serious about running will be left wanting.
Inspire also comes with some basic smartwatch functions. This includes silent alarms on your wrist and timer/stopwatch. You’ll get updates from social media apps and call, calendar and text alerts to keep you connected on the go. These are available on-device when your smartphone is nearby. To read any messages in full, though, in most cases you’ll need to use your smartphone.
If you’re looking for an easy entrance into the world of fitness tracking, Inspire might fit the bill. The device covers the essentials and it uses Fitbit’s tried and tested smartphone app to deliver the info. But remember, the tracker doesn’t go much beyond basic steps, distance, calories, sleep and exercise data.
The fitness band looks good, it’s water-resistant and comes with a couple of different ways in which to wear it. Plus you can always customize the look by swapping the band for another one.
Having said this, I can’t help but feel that in this day and age it doesn’t make too much sense to buy a fitness tracker without a heart rate sensor. And you do get this for an extra $30 or so with Inspire HR. Whats more, you also get better exercise tracking, more detailed sleep stats, Cardio Fitness Score and more.
For those that opt for Inspire? As long as you manage your expectations, you’ll be fine.
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